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Liberal Democrat council election pledges: halt Broad Street tram extension and scrap garden tax

Liberal Democrat council election pledges: halt Broad Street tram extension and scrap garden tax

🕔02.May 2014

Liberal Democrats would halt the extension of the Midland Metro tram service to Broad Street and Centenary Square if they were running Birmingham City Council.

The party’s manifesto for this month’s local elections also proposes scrapping a £35 annual charge for collecting garden waste and suggests allowing householders to opt out of having wheelie bins allowing them to keep the plastic sack refuse collection service instead.

The document, which lists a host of pledges, is unlikely ever to be acted upon since only 15 of Birmingham’s 120 councillors are Liberal Democrats. However, the party ran the council in coalition with the Conservatives from 2004 to 2012 and may see a similar partnership as its best chance of power in the future.

The manifesto for the May 22 elections claims that a Metro extension to Broad Street and Centenary Square, proposed by the Labour-controlled council and backed by the Integrated Transport Authority, should not be treated as a priority. Proposals to run a ‘superbus’ service along Broad Street and Hagley Road make the tram superfluous, according to the Lib Dems.

Liberal Democrat councillors believe the city should concentrate instead on extending the Metro to the planned HS2 station at Curzon Street and onwards to Eastside.

The document states: “We would put on hold the Metro extension to Centenary Square until a deal is made with HS2 on extending the Metro to Curzon Street. Strategically the Metro should then go eastwards creating new public transport links through the congested east of the city.

“The Centenary Square project is being done in parallel with the superbus  plan to provide park and ride along Hagley Road and Broad Street. This is unnecessary duplication. There would be immediate savings for the Local Enterprise Zone by not spending £8 million on a glorified tram stop at Centenary Square.”

In common with opposition Conservative councillors, the Liberal Democrats attack Labour’s record on refuse collection and street cleaning and are promising to scrap the green waste collection charge, which has been dubbed a ‘garden tax’.

“Birmingham is taking a beating and it is at the hands of the Labour group that controls the council. Streets are dirtier, residents cannot get their rubbish collected and indeed have been told to pay for the privilege.”

Key points from the Liberal Democrat manifesto:

  • Take advantage of a Government grant to freeze council tax bills.
  • Reinstate green waste collections for all households at a cost of£2.53 million. The money would come from contingency funds.
  • Allow residents to opt out of having wheelie bins and choose to put out black bags and recycling boxes. Remove household wheelie bins from any neighbourhoods where they have made collection inefficient or have significantly impacted the street scene.
  • Install small surveillance cameras to trees and lamp-posts to catch fly-tippers and to monitor anti-social behaviour.
  • Award additional ‘community chest’ funding to Birmingham’s 40 wards to be spent on local projects.
  • Introduce a sport and leisure scrutiny committee and restore the cabinet housing member post.
  • Submit a new Heritage Lottery Fund bid for the restoration of Moseley Road Baths.
  • Investigate the creation of a city centre voluntary sector zone focusing on high-quality charity shops.
  • Restore the right of District Committees to meet in their own districts, and support the creation of a Sutton Coldfield Town Council.

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